Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fan Mail and Funeral Homes

Okay, I know it's been a little while since I've updated. It was called to my attention last evening in fan mail!!

Yes folks, you read that right...I got FAN MAIL!! (via email)

Terre made me feel SO good when she wrote and told me that she "couldn't take it anymore" and had to find out what was going on.

Thank you Terre....for being a writer yourself, and then complimenting me on my writing....well, WOW! You made my night!!

If you are offended by funeral home stories, feel free to stop reading here.

Ted and I have some friends that we've known forever. Ted and Mark knew each other BEFORE they started kindergarten! I first met Mark when I was a sophomore in high school. He was in band with me, as was his wife Debbie. I've known Debbie since I was a junior in high school. So it's safe to say that the four of us go WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY back.

Mark was an only child who was born when his parents were in their 40s. Although that's not too big of a deal now, way back when it was definitely NOT the norm.

Oh yeah. Mark has red hair. And the temper that goes with it. Enough said.

I played trumpet in band and Mark and Debbie did too. Mark was an excellent trumpet player. He was always capable of hitting those really high notes. I'd get a little worried about him when he hit a really high note and his hair would turn redder and his face would turn purple, but he always made it through okay.

Mark also took drafting classes in high school and went to Cleveland one evening in March of his junior year for a competition. His parents went with him, as did the parents of the other students involved. Unfortunately his dad had a heart attack and died in an elevator in Cleveland that night. What a sad time that was. After that it was just Mark and his mom Elda.

After graduation Mark went off to the University of Cincinnati and became an engineer. Elda was so proud of him. Every time I would see her in the grocery store or somewhere else she would always talk about Mark and his latest accomplishments. After college graduation Mark came back to the area and was working for ODOT, the Ohio Department of Transportation. I know that Elda was so relieved to have him nearby.

Mark and his wife Debbie began dating (they never dated in high school...funny, isn't it?) and got married, and had their first son. Elda would always stop me and tell me how things were going with them and how much she relied on Mark to help her with things. After Mark and Debbie had their second son, they eventually went through Elda's house for her, to get her ready to move. Elda was known as a pack rat and it was a rough job, going through everything, but they did it. They got her moved and kept a close eye on things.

Elda loved saving things. She would save styrofoam meat trays. She would save paper bags. She saved plastic bags. She would buy Cool Whip just to save the containers. She had enough foil pie pans to bake pies for everyone in the county. She collected rubber bands. She hoarded clothing, and only wore a few of the same pieces all the time. Before they knew it, Mark and Debbie had to go to Elda's new house and "reduce" her collection again.

Elda had her share of health issues over the years. She had three strokes over a 12 year period or so. She had high blood pressure. She had some other ailments too. But the thing about Elda was that she always bounced back, better than ever.

We said that Elda would outlive us all.

A couple of years ago she had to go the nursing home, but was still coherent at the beginning of her stay. She started going downhill several months ago.

Mark has had a rough year. He was diagnosed with diabetes a few years back and this past spring had to have a big toe amputated due to some complications related to the diabetes. After a week long stay in the hospital for that, he came home for a few days before being admitted again with a staph infection. He was only in for several days that time. When we saw him in late July he was still hooking himself to IV antibiotics twice a day. He said he only had a week to go with that though.

A few weeks later, Ted ran into Debbie and she told him that Mark had had a stroke. At that time he was at a hospital about half an hour away and would soon be heading to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment. After his release from the clinic he went to a nursing home for some rehab. This was definitely NOT the Mark that we had known.

Life takes some wild turns occasionally. Sigh.

Mark got released from the nursing home about a week ago. Two days ago they got the call from Elda's nursing home telling them that they needed to get there fast. She passed away late Tuesday afternoon, at the age of 90.

I guess she didn't outlive us all.

We were at the funeral home tonight, and although it was sad, it was nice to see Mark sitting there able to talk and walk. He gave us the "Cliff Notes" version of what he had gone through and it's amazing that he's come as far as he has. He said that he's going back to work as a construction engineer at ODOT on November 10. I sure hope it goes well for him.

We saw quite a few people there that we knew from high school. Ironically the woman that had been the secretary at the high school works at the funeral home as a greeter. She is SO awesome! She always gives all of us a hug when she sees us and is just the greatest woman!

There were people there that we had seen at Ted's high school reunion, and others who either didn't make it to the reunion or didn't graduate with Ted. For being a sad occasion, it was kind of nice. Do you know what I mean?

Is that a bad thing to say? It was almost fun. (I'm looking up, hoping that I'm not going to be struck by lightning for saying that.)

A lot of us got caught up on each other's lives and we saw Mark and Debbie's oldest son, who is in the Coast Guard. He was in his dress blues and looked SO sharp!

Ted was rolling his eyes at me because I asked a few people I know if they've had their colonoscopies yet, hahaha. I try not to ever miss an opportunity to push the scope issue.

Our local funeral home now serves COOKIES AND LEMONADE during the viewing!! I've read a series of books (Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books) in which they have cookies at the funeral home and laughed hysterically, but to see it in real life?? Ted said that he just has a hard time having cookies with the deceased watching over him. I know, that's a shock for Ted, because I don't ever remember him passing up a chance to have a couple of cookies, but that's his thought on the subject.

For those of you who are offended by my take on the funeral home bit, I apologize. For those of you who are not offended, time you visit the funeral home, ask if they have snickerdoodles.


Anonymous said...

Uh, we had cookies and coffee....

Patty said...

I know someone else who saves the foam meat trays.

Patty said...

I know someone else who saves the foam meat trays.